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Here’s What The Clorox Company’s (NYSE:CLX) ROCE Can Tell Us

Simply Wall St

Today we are going to look at The Clorox Company (NYSE:CLX) to see whether it might be an attractive investment prospect. Specifically, we’re going to calculate its Return On Capital Employed (ROCE), in the hopes of getting some insight into the business.

First up, we’ll look at what ROCE is and how we calculate it. Next, we’ll compare it to others in its industry. And finally, we’ll look at how its current liabilities are impacting its ROCE.

Understanding Return On Capital Employed (ROCE)

ROCE is a metric for evaluating how much pre-tax income (in percentage terms) a company earns on the capital invested in its business. All else being equal, a better business will have a higher ROCE. Overall, it is a valuable metric that has its flaws. Renowned investment researcher Michael Mauboussin has suggested that a high ROCE can indicate that ‘one dollar invested in the company generates value of more than one dollar’.

How Do You Calculate Return On Capital Employed?

Analysts use this formula to calculate return on capital employed:

Return on Capital Employed = Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) ÷ (Total Assets – Current Liabilities)

Or for Clorox:

0.29 = US$1.1b ÷ (US$5.1b – US$1.2b) (Based on the trailing twelve months to December 2018.)

So, Clorox has an ROCE of 29%.

Check out our latest analysis for Clorox

Is Clorox’s ROCE Good?

When making comparisons between similar businesses, investors may find ROCE useful. In our analysis, Clorox’s ROCE is meaningfully higher than the 14% average in the Household Products industry. We consider this a positive sign, because it suggests it uses capital more efficiently than similar companies. Putting aside its position relative to its industry for now, in absolute terms, Clorox’s ROCE is currently very good.

NYSE:CLX Past Revenue and Net Income, March 15th 2019

When considering this metric, keep in mind that it is backwards looking, and not necessarily predictive. Companies in cyclical industries can be difficult to understand using ROCE, as returns typically look high during boom times, and low during busts. ROCE is, after all, simply a snap shot of a single year. What happens in the future is pretty important for investors, so we have prepared a free report on analyst forecasts for Clorox.

What Are Current Liabilities, And How Do They Affect Clorox’s ROCE?

Current liabilities are short term bills and invoices that need to be paid in 12 months or less. Due to the way the ROCE equation works, having large bills due in the near term can make it look as though a company has less capital employed, and thus a higher ROCE than usual. To counteract this, we check if a company has high current liabilities, relative to its total assets.

Clorox has total assets of US$5.1b and current liabilities of US$1.2b. Therefore its current liabilities are equivalent to approximately 23% of its total assets. The fairly low level of current liabilities won’t have much impact on the already great ROCE.

Our Take On Clorox’s ROCE

This is good to see, and with such a high ROCE, Clorox may be worth a closer look. You might be able to find a better buy than Clorox. If you want a selection of possible winners, check out this free list of interesting companies that trade on a P/E below 20 (but have proven they can grow earnings).

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.